It's back into Lewis Carroll's LSD trip of a world for the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, this time directed by James Bobin, with Tim Burton producing.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is now a confident young ship captain, exploring the globe and believing nothing is impossible after the events of the first film. Upon returning home from a voyage, she discovers she is to be made a clerk by her new boss and former admirer Hamish (Leo Bill), and her mother (Lindsay Duncan) will lose her home if she refuses.
Visited by Absolem (Alan Rickman in his last role), who is now a butterfly, Alice goes through a mirror back into Underland (née Wonderland) where she is greeted by her old friends, including The White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Tweedledum and Tweddledee (Matt Lucas), Thackery (Paul Whitehouse), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), Bayard (Timothy Spall), McTwisp (Michael Sheen) and Mallymkun (Barbara Windsor)
Notably absent is The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who is mortally depressed following a chance encounter with a hat reminding him of his family’s death (including father Rhys Ifans) years ago. The only way to save him is for Alice to go back in time and stop this from happening. To do this, she needs to steal the chronosphere, a device that controls time, from Time himself (played wonderfully by Sacha Baron Cohen). However, the inept Time wants the device back, as does the banished Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). And of course, time travel never has any complications...
The film is an improvement on Burton's disappointing Alice in Wonderland. Bobin's world is slightly more toned down; matching the more sombre themes of time, death and regret (Caroll wrote the story after the death of his father). Depp has ditched the Hatter’s Scottish accent, with Baron Cohen filling the void with a Herzogesque German accent for Time. The film seems more tolerable and watchable as a whole, although there is still a candy floss explosion of colour and plenty of zaniness.
There is overacting galore, usually on purpose and left up to Bonham Carter and Hathaway, fulfilling a sub-plot that explains how the sisters became enemies. The story itself is not very strong but the film seems is more coherent than its predecessor with more depth. It’s an enjoyable return to Wonderland, but still missing the wonder.
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JAMES BOBIN / SCREENPLAY: LINDA WOOLVERTON / STARRING: MIA WASKIKOWSKA, JOHNNY DEPP, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, ANNE HATHAWAY, SACHA BARON COHEN, RHYS IFANS, MATT LUCAS, ALAN RICKMAN, PAUL WHITEHOUSE, STEPHEN DRY, TIMOTHY SPALL, MICHAEL SHEEN, BARBARA WINDSOR, RICHARD ARMITAGE, LEO BILL, LINDSAY DUNCAN, ANDREW SOCTT, ED SPEELERS, GERLADINE JAMES, MEERA SYAL, JOHN SESSIONS, TOBY JONES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected rating: 5/10